Oh well, at least it's

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Assorted Writings

Everything here is
my personal opinion.
 
I do not speak
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2006-06-02 »

The Curse is Broken

109 days. So there.

I had to change a lot of things about myself and the company in order to break the curse, but the core is intact and finally it's self-consistent.

Albeit in a different way than I was expecting.

June 2, 2006 11:57



2006-06-10 »

Trying and Being

    Do or do not. There is no "try."
    -- Yoda

The thing I find most interesting thing about yogaclasses is the difference between how it feels when you're clueless (like me, usually) and when you know what you're doing (which I do in a few rare cases). When you're clueless, every position is a struggle, and it's really hard to maintain it for more than a few seconds. But when you actually figure out how to do one of the stretches properly, it becomes easy all of a sudden, and it doesn't feel like a stretch at all.

Sadly, none of the instructors have actually brought this up in class. You seem to be left to figure it out by yourself. But once you realize it's true, you stop trying to stretch yourself into a particular position, and you spend more time trying to figure out the trick of getting into that position properly. It's much more productive.

The rest of the world works like that too. And there are various philosophies that suggest that if you're truly enlightened, you can find the right place to stand and the world will revolve around you, working out just like you want.

But there's a catch. As much as it would be nice to be enlightened and just let things be the way you want, if you're not quite so enlightened, all that will accomplish is randomness or stagnation (depending where you land). In yoga class, you have to attain a certain degree of flexibility before you can even really start - and that takes solid effort. Once you get that far, you have to figure out how to do the different positions properly - and that takes effort too, albeit of a different kind. And the further you progress, the more convoluted it becomes.

And yes, I can tie this back to programming. I'm glad you asked.

I did a presentation at work a couple of years ago called "Coding Faster." In it I described the well-known concept of being in "The Zone" and also the opposite, which I called "Ooze." Most programmers aim to spend as much time as possible in the zone, but that's not quite right; the zone is being. You know what you want, and you know how to do it, and really: you get into the zone and it just happens by itself. (If you're a programmer and that's not how it feels for you, then you're doing it wrong. Trust me on this.)

The part people miss, though, is the ooze time leading up to the zone. It takes a lot of hard work to understand the universe well enough to be able to be properly productive in the zone. Ooze time, although it's slow and feels unproductive, is critical to overall productivity. Ooze time is trying.

So I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with Yoda on this one. There is definitely a "try." Anyway, he was probably just telling Luke that to keep things simple for the early lessons. But I agree that "try" is really not the same thing as "do," which I think was his real point.

June 10, 2006 04:46



2006-06-12 »

Independent thought

    The purpose of a designer is to make happy coincidences happen more frequently.
    -- me

Someone else's independent thought

    So, what benefit am I taking from all the freedoms I have because I am not a duck? ... That's the sort of question you should expect poets to be asking on your behalf.
    -- Jem Rolls


June 12, 2006 16:07


2006-06-19 »

Unraveling at the Fringe

Several people have posted reviews of some Fringe Festival shows they've seen, along with their ratings. For me, though, the purpose of the fringe festival isn't so much to see or measure quality entertainment. After all, as I've mentioned, as far as art is concerned, I have no idea what I'm doing and thus it's easier for me to appreciate.

No, the purpose is to gather another year's worth of random input. So without further ado, I bring you: 40 tidbits of randomness, in alphabetical order by show name. (Yes, I have a leaning toward puns. So shoot me.)

Needlephobic spasms. No, no, his house - the Hur house; it's enough to turn gay men straight.

Wah - I love pizza - but I Kant!

People never to break up with; people never to buy dinosaur souvenirs from.

Airport jokes and flamenco made interesting; human relationships the MIT way.

Eat here - get gas for free! Dancing in the rain and the worst audition ever.

Brain sucking ingenious crazy dance! Anorexia personified, and at least one continuously improvised dance scene!

Dinosaurs aren't souvenirs, they're EOLed products. White clothes make great projection screens! Breakdance fusion!

Queuing was stolen from the British; also, There was a young man from Peru, whose limerick stopped at line two. Non-lost innocence and a squirt of toilet humour. Non-toilet-related private moments made public and an encounter with Sweden's orb of literacy.

Speaking in tongues, the musical. Verbal smilies!

The missing minute from my life.

You can't escape a guilty conscience... and eventually, your creations will take on a life of their own (ergh, tell me about it).

Nunavut -- twice. Dames in disdress, vs. a very different form of fake but extremely convincing shyness.

Always have a lawyer look over your contracts, particularly if you make them with the devil. Speaking of which: Stephen Harper and David Suzuki, together at last, along with Terry Fox's right sock.

Octopus dance (I wish I'd had a fork). Vegetable dance (enough to make you dizzy).

Learning English from Entertainment Tonight and a wishing well talks back to cheapskates. Criminals are people too.

Honourable mention, even though it was free and thus doesn't count: 11-second dance parties, 16-second slowdance parties (thanks, Cheer Politeness), 22-second dance parties, and so on. To heck with the popular kids! To heck with respectable theatre!

Peer pressure and mutual motivation

And now for the obligatory Advogato tie-in.

Last year at the Fringe Festival, I saw 26 shows in 10 days, and it was exhausting. When I set out this year, I decided: no sense overdoing it. I'm not going to try to beat last year's insane record. I'll just see as many shows as I want to see, then I'll stop.

So then I saw 40 shows. Oops. What happened?

What happened was peer pressure. None of us really wanted to see that many shows. But when you have a few people working together and encouraging each other, the positive feedback loop can be irresistable. "Come on, you can't be tired yet! I want to see one more!" "Come on, there's a show on - let's leave work early!" "Come on, you already bought the multi-ticket pass, so you might as well use it up!"

I learned a couple of years ago now that you should never let a person work on a project at work alone; it's hard for someone to get motivated that way. This is the idea behind pair programming, but you don't have to go that far; two people can work on parts of the same project, as long as their work is slightly mutually dependent - say, at least one reason to rely on the other person per day. Then if one person falls behind, they're disappointing the other person, and vice versa. This mutual motivation technique can be extremely effective, and it vastly outweighs the cost of having a second person working on the project, because it'll probably get done more than twice as fast.

So now, thanks to all that motivation, I feel like I've accomplished something. It turned out to be something ill-conceived and stupid; who the heck needs to see 40 shows in 10 days?? But I guess that's my point. Motivational techniques work, even if you're trying to get people to do ill-conceived, stupid things.

June 19, 2006 21:47



2006-06-27 »

Practical Extraction

Well, that could have been worse. Presumably.

Pathologically Eclectic

Since people keep asking, yes, I am currently interested in projects related to distributed storage, network path optimization, unified configuration (UniConf, GConf3, KDE4 KConfig), and several other loosely related things. Like unified multi-contributor documentation and decent Unix printing and NaNoWriMo and Business Design (hah! See! I didn't make it up!) and and and... so yeah, I'll just pick one of those.

Also, because I'm obviously insane, I have subconsciously arranged to be in Toronto for the entire Toronto Fringe Festival. Ha ha. Very funny, brain. This is not good at all.

June 28, 2006 00:22



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